Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A reason to be anaethetised

The press are having a quiet field day with Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, as each salacious detail is drip-fed to a waiting world. Coverage seems to have become incrementally more slavering, along the lines of:

  1. Hoffman has sadly died. RIP.
  2. Ooh. Hoffman had a history of drug use and rehab.
  3. OOH! Police found 70 bags of heroine in his apartment.
  4. OMFG! He was found with a syringe in his arm. Like this somehow makes his death more/less tragic (delete as applicable to the mentality of your newspaper).

It's all pretty tawdry, emblematic of the state of the British press. I'm not going to link to it on a point of principle, but the Daily Wail details "Hoffman's final descent into drugs" in bold bulletpoints. It's not hard to imagine a sub-editor drooling as he explains to his minions how neither bold nor bulletpoints are sufficient on their own to convey the nation's outrage/intrigue. The same article later shows a photograph of Hoffman asleep on a plane - you know, because that is clearly relevant to his drug issues, as he was obviously


rather than just, you know, sleeping on a plane. And by the way, that photo was taken by a member of the public, presumably without the sleeping Hoffman's consent. Reflects well on the public, doesn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not belittling drug addiction, and I'm not belittling someone's death in apparently sorry circumstances either. I just loathe the joyous muck-raking from certain sections of the media that accompanies any such event.

In the midst of all this so-called journalism, there was one little nugget on Newsnight, in which Will Self (who I sometimes admire and sometimes think is a bit of a tool) was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (ditto). I especially liked Paxo's question at about 1.55, and Self's answer. Have a watch to reassure yourself that it is still possible to drill into serious issues without descending into news frottage.

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